Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!: Intimacy During Pregnancy & Postpartum

Remember when you were having fun trying to get pregnant? I’m feeling sexy, let’s have sex!  I’m ovulating, let’s have sex! I’m bored, let’s have sex! Any reason was a good reason to do the deed. Then you actually got pregnant, and let’s just say you weren’t as eager any more. Then! You had the baby and thought you’d be eager to get back to having some fun, but that didn’t happen right away. Well that’s because pregnancies and children change your romantic relationship. The question is do you let it change for the better or for the worst?

bed bedroom blanket clean
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One of the most common statements in couples therapy is, “We never have sex.” Surprising? Maybe not, because of course lack of sex is often a result of lack of intimacy, respect, understanding, and many other things already missing from a relationship. These same things can get lost in the changes that occur during and after a pregnancy. Let’s talk about some of the ways sex changes when a baby is on the way.

1st Trimester

You may still look like yourself for the most part, but you probably don’t feel like yourself. Between morning sickness, severe fatigue, and just the stress of understanding that you are actually growing a human inside of you…sex is probably the last thing on your mind (I mean that’s what got you in this situation in the first place! #TurnOff). Your partner may still be very much into you though…no pun intended.

As you go through these unrecognizable changes your partner may still be ready to jump in the hay and may not understand why someone who was all about the sexy time a month or two ago is suddenly completely over the idea. This is the best time to talk to your partner about what’s going on for you and try to get them on the same page. As things start growing and feeling more and more uncomfortable, it will get harder to have a rational conversation about your partner’s needs as well as what you need.

Try practicing other forms of intimacy. Whether that be cuddling, kissing, hugging, eye contact or (let’s stay scientifically correct) fellatio or cunnilingus. If you don’t know what those last two are, Google it…actually on second thought. Don’t Google it. I’m talking about a good old fashioned BJ and well in the words of Cardi B let him “swim with his face”. Anyway…moving on.

2nd Trimester

The first 3 months can be rough, but with the 2nd trimester some changes may occur. The path of pregnancy is a continuously evolving one and you may notice changes in mood, changes in your body, and changes in your sex drive. Some women even experience an increase in their libido during this time! The tricky part about the 2nd trimester is getting back into the swing of things. If you got your partner on the same page during the 1st trimester it is easier to divulge to them that your desire is back and your ready to see what that body pillow was really meant to do.

Now, with a growing bump your partner may have some fears about what is and isn’t okay when it comes to sex at this stage. Always check in with your doctor to make sure they don’t have any concerns about you doing the deed (and trust that asking about sex is definitely not going to make your doctor uncomfortable…they stare at lady parts all day, they don’t have an uncomfortable bone in their bodies). Take the time to educate yourselves on what sex could look like at this stage, and possibly take a birthing class to help build trust and intimacy in this time of delicate emotions. Going to therapy during this time (individual or couples) can also be beneficial for exploring how you are really feeling about this pending new life.

pregnant woman in white dress shirt
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

3rd Trimester

Things are getting a little lot more crowded and uncomfortable. You may have to get creative with your positioning in this stage, but the deed can be done (again, double check with your physician). Use this as an excuse to practice your listening skills and communicate what works and what doesn’t work for either of you. This is technically the last time you will be able to get it done for a few months.

Also, carve out time in your schedule to discuss how you are both feeling about this new life growing and how things might change after their arrival. Set expectations for how you would like to stay connected once sex is something that inevitably becomes less frequent (at least in the short term).

Postpartum

The baby is out! Woohoo! Time for sex, right? Wrong. You have another 2 months (at least) before any doctor will give you the okay for sex. Let’s be honest those first 2 months you’re probably not going to have the time or energy for sex anyway (a newborn can really suck the life out of you). Use these two months to practice less physical intimacy (refer to 1st Trimester) and start discussing your birth control options with your ob/gyn as these will need to be started ASAP if you don’t want to be doing this all over again in 9 months. Note: you CAN get pregnant while breastfeeding, so do not use that as a form of birth control.

This is a time of transition for any couple, so recognizing that things will not be exactly the same, and putting in place some ways to create small, intimate moments that now work with your new life will be critical. If you are struggling in this time to communicate with one another your needs, utilize your village and have someone babysit for an hour or two (take up friends/family on their offers for help). You both deserve a break. Take some time to go on a date or go to therapy together. Giving yourself some grace allows you to be a better partner and parent.

Teenagers: 7 Things You Do and Don’t Remember about This Tumultuous Time of Life

Oh, the glorious teenage years. Seven years of raging hormones, testing boundaries, discovering who you are, and deciding who you don’t want to be. Working with teenagers has reminded me about all the ups and downs that the average teen goes through, and also reminded me that being an adult with coping skills and real life experience is something I shouldn’t take for granted. Parents of today’s teenage generation should be applauded, but they should also be reminded that the average high school graduate this year was born in 2000…just think about that. They were practically born with a smartphone in their hand.

I not only applaud the parents, but I applaud the teens that make it through this time with limited drama. Being a teenager is hard. Living with a teenager is even harder. That’s why I want to discuss the 7 things you do and don’t remember about being an adolescent.

parent and tween

Hormones

This is a lot of parents’ first excuse for any bad behavior portrayed by their teenage child. This is one thing that a lot of us do actually remember. Being horny, irritated, angsty, defiant, hormonal teenagers. It is true. Teens are going through arguably the most hormonal-ly, disfunctional time in their adult lives. This isn’t necessarily a good excuse to let them slide on any and everything however. This is a good time however to talk with your teen about managing their emotions and developing useful coping skills for when they are feeling anxious, depressed, or just annoyed. Good coping skills can look like practicing “self care” with your teen. Go get your nails done together (mom or dad), share a journal and write about the highs and lows of your week, or just try teaching a healthy way to give space and check in when appropriate. Helping your teen gain these skills now will save them a lot of money from not having to go to therapy later in life.

Autonomy

Figuring out how to be an independent person and thinker is something a lot of us adults don’t remember. We’ve been thinking for ourselves for so long, we can’t even imagine what it’s like to not have your own individual thought process. Adolescents are just developing this however. Adolescents spend a large portion of those 7 years figuring out how to form their own opinion and how to view themselves as a unique individual instead of a small portion of a family unit. That’s why your teen never wants to do anything with you, because being seen with you makes them your child instead of solo, independent, autonomous, whomever. That is why giving your teenager space at this age and room to make decisions on their own is so important.

One of my favorite quotes from my anti-helicopter parent father is, “I give you enough rope to hang yourself.” This sounds dark and twisted, but really all he is trying to say is, “I’m giving you enough space to make your own decisions, whether those are good or bad decisions is up to you.” As a teen I totally didn’t get this, but looking back it worked like a charm. I had plenty of opportunities to get into a whole lot of trouble (and there were definitely times I did make poor choices), but I rarely went to “the end of my rope”. I was one of those teens with no curfew and no real clear restrictions on what I could and couldn’t do. My parents always reasoned with me though, so I knew that coming home by midnight on a Saturday may fly, but anything past 9:30pm during the week was pushing it. Instill good boundaries, but let them roam.

Bullying/Peer Pressure

Bullying and peer pressure is something that we all remember either participating in or being drug into. Unfortunately, although we may remember what this looked like for us in high school, bullying and peer pressure look very different for our teens now. What use to stop at the end of the school day, now continues 24/7 online. And what use to be pressures to drink or smoke cigarettes, now looks like pressures to vape, eat edibles, and all sorts of other stuff that I don’t want to scare you with listing. Talking to your kids on a regular basis not only allows you to know what’s going on, but it gives you a baseline for determining when something is a little off with them. Being able to pick up on those cues (such as shorter responses, more time in their room, less time hanging out with friends, amongst various other things) can help you know when you need to intervene or start asking the harder questions. Provide your support and be involved. They may resist at first, but they will eventually share if you are consistently providing the opportunity for them too.

Self-Esteem, or Lack There of

Teens are so consumed with themselves it seems crazy. Selfies, updating bios, obsessing over outfits and makeup and hair cuts, oh my! This self-obsession ties into that autonomy I spoke about earlier. Adolescents truly believe that everyone is paying attention to everything they do, when really they are all to obsessed with themselves to notice anyone else. This time of experimenting with their identity is so important to building their self-esteem. Make sure you are supporting their identity (whether good or bad) and practicing self love yourself as a good example.

I will never forget the day my mother called by best friend fat. 🤦🏾‍♀️ Okay, she didn’t actually say that, what she did do was comment on the fact that she wasn’t looking super tiny anymore after coming back from summer vacation. My mom thought it was a good thing that she gained a couple pounds…my friend on the other hand spent the next week obsessing over the fact that she “looked fat” because that is how she interpreted the comment. What started off as a harmless comment, turned into a teen’s obsession with her weight and a dig at her self-esteem. So be mindful about how you speak to your adolescent (and their friends), and reinforce the fact that every teen has their unique, positive qualities.

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Your First [Fill in the Blank]

Something we all may remember is the “firsts” we experienced as teenagers. Our first kiss, our first dance, our first date, our first…whatever. It’s probably been awhile since the last time we had a “first” of anything, but it is something that teens are dealing with pretty regularly at this age. Everything is new, and though we may want to talk about our experiences and convince them that hearing a story from 20+ years ago is a suitable replacement for them actually experiencing it themselves, that is not how teens usually “learn their lesson”. Now I am not saying to hold back any advice you wish someone had given you in your younger years, but I am saying that you have to expect teens to fail and make mistakes for themselves still. Some advice will stick and some won’t.

One way to make giving advice a little easier is to ask your teen what questions they have about certain topics before just dishing out whatever it is you know. Validate any concerns they may have and normalize their experiences…okay these are my therapy words. By “validate” and “normalize” I mean use phrases like, “That does sound really tough to deal with.” or “It may feel like you’re the only one experiencing that, but a lot of your peers probably are too.” or “I went through that when I was your age.” or “Your older sibling asked me the same thing.” or any variation of these phrases. The important part of this whole thing is making your teen feel heard and understood, and creating a safe place for them to ask about these “firsts”.

Social Media

Let’s be honest. If you have a teenager right now, you did not have social media growing up. For parents today, social media is something that is new and maybe a little scary. Your child probably has at least 4 or 5 different profiles on different platforms, and maybe 1 or 2 on platforms you didn’t even know existed. This is one area that the old, “I remember being a teenager.” line does not apply to. Although you may not have a social media account or know how to use one that doesn’t mean you can’t support your teen in making good decisions while on these platforms. Some things you can do is encourage them to set their accounts to “Private” so they aren’t easily accessible to “strangers”, and educating them about scams, predators, laws, and the permanency of online content.

Things NOT to do when it comes to your teen’s Social Media Usage:

  • Make a fake profile to stalk them. No. Don’t do it.
  • Ignore the fact that they have been locked in their room for 5+ hours online
  • Encourage them to be “InstaFamous”
  • Hover over their shoulder asking for passwords
  • Give them a phone, tablet, laptop, etc. with no rules or regulations attached. Examples of Good Boundary Setting Rules: Electronics off by bed time, No phones at the dinner table, Bad grades = electronics taken away, One household member must be following you on all platforms (an older sibling may be a good choice for this one)

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Not Quite Being an Adult

Being a teenager is one extra long, awkward dance between being a kid and being an adult. Bringing together the hormones, autonomy, peer pressures, self-esteem, “firsts”, and social media is a wicked concoction. This is a gray area where certain things are okay and certain others are (for lack of better terms) illegal. It is important to have these conversations with your teens and also expose them to what being an adult is really like. Teaching them useful skills that aren’t taught in school anymore like how bills work, how to cook, how to do their laundry, how to budget, and other tasks that you may remember thinking, “How the heck does this work?” when you were their age. This is the perfect time for them to start practicing how to be an adult. With your assistance, dedication, and openness this can be a really fruitful time of growth. As much as this is a time of finding balance for your teens, it is also a time of finding balance as a parent. And when all else fails…go to therapy. 😉

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Fatherhood: What’s It Like to Be a Minority Dad?

I know I often discuss what it is like to be a mother (especially a black mother) in today’s age, but what about being a father? Why are there so many so called “mom blogs”, but not as many “dad blogs”? Maybe it is because of how fatherhood is portrayed in society.

The role of “father” in society and media is often portrayed as someone who supports the family financially, is a workaholic, doesn’t know what’s going on with the kids, maybe enforces the discipline, maybe completely ignores discipline, or (more frequently in portrayals of minority fathers) is just straight up absent from the household. Hmm…this list is sounding very negative.

Why is being a father associated with negative/disengaged behavior? What would it be like to see a positive image of what a father is?

That is why I wanted to interview a [minority] father that plays a big role in his family and displays as close to perfect (in my image) of what a dad should be. Ernesto Camacho, full-time father, full-time therapist, and a full-time spouse (my spouse specifically). How does he do it all? I’m not quite sure. So let’s ask him!

Ernesto Camacho & Family

Q: How are you so successful in every role you play in your life??

A: There are two main reasons why I believe I am successful…I invest in my relationships with others and I pay attention to the minute details. So, I think of the roles you described, as all relationships in which the worth of those relationships or the success of those relationships are dependent upon my deposits. By deposits, I’m referring to those check-ins to see how the other person is doing, by educating myself when I don’t know something, by being aware of my shortcomings and by constantly improving on them, and having open communication with the people I’m in relationships with.

Q: What’s it like being a minority father in your community? Are there any extra pressures?

A: I think there are extra pressures on myself because there were no good role models. Like you mentioned, there are negative representations of a father when you look at movies or media in general, you see “abusive fathers” or the “deadbeat dad”. You also see the polar opposite of this in the “workhorse father” who provides financially, but is never around. It was hard in the beginning trying to figure out what type of father I wanted to be, but once I figured it out, it was easy.

Q: Out of the various roles you play, which is your favorite?

A: Being a dad. It’s the most emotionally fulfilling relationship I’ve ever had. No offense.

Q: What was on your mind when you found out you were going to be a father…truthfully?

A: Ah, sh*t. Thinking of finances, what kind of father I wanted to be, and how I was going to manage a full time job, being a full time student, and a full time family. When I found out it was a girl, I started crying. I remember that. I wanted to make sure she knew how a man should treat her and the fact that she shouldn’t feel less than in this world. I knew I would play a role in how she viewed herself in society. I was really honored and appreciative to play that role.

“It’s amazing how your involvement is tied in with their growth.”

Q: What has been the biggest surprise in your first year of fatherhood?

A: How quickly your child learns from you. I’ve taught her many things like how to brush her teeth, and I wasn’t sure how quickly she would pick it up, but now she says, “brush teeth”. It’s amazing how your involvement is tied in with their growth.

Q: What has been the biggest reward of becoming a father?

A: It’s gonna sound cheesy, but just being her dad. I’m really happy to be her dad and be the person she plays with and hugs and kisses. She is very glued to me and looks for me all the time. It’s a lot of unconditional love.

Q: How do you practice #SimpleSelfCare as a dad?

A: I practice it often. Having a developing toddler you definitely need to. Some of my go-to’s are asking [mom] for a break from the kiddo. Having hobbies. Coffee. And exercising. And not skipping meals because parents do that all the time. Feed yourself first then feed your kids.

Q: What’s your advice to new mothers on how to support their “baby daddies”?

A: Let him know what your expectations are because a lot of times we get lost. We want to help, but we just don’t know in what way we can. New moms should also practice #SimpleSelfCare so it can lower the overall stress at home. And don’t criticize them if they are doing something wrong. It might take more time now to teach the things like how to swaddle or bathe the child or change a diaper. But in the long run you’re making deposits to your relationship and increasing the value and connection.

Q: Would you recommend therapy for soon-to-be dads or new fathers? Or even couples who are expecting?

A: I think it would be unfair to just single out the fathers and it would also be unfair to the relationship because both partners could learn about each other’s parenting styles during therapy. Therapy can provide soon to be parents with a safe space to communicate their concerns, explore their parenting values, and prepare them for the new and difficult transition.

Q: What is your advice to new fathers or soon-to-be fathers?

A: It will be alright. You don’t have to be perfect. It’s going to be stressful, but it will be worth it. Make sure to take care of yourself and lean into the discomfort.


Lots of take-a-ways for you dads out there (and moms). You learn some new things when you interview your spouse. Here’s your homework for this week, ask some of these questions to YOUR “baby daddy” or modify them and ask them to your “baby mama” and maybe you’ll learn something new about how you interact as parents.

All the thanks to Mr. Ernesto Camacho, IMF #100564 for cooperating with me, and for really speaking from the heart! I couldn’t appreciate you more for all the hard work you put into being a fantastic father and spouse! Love you!

And Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! May this be a special one!

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How to Tell the Kids about Your “Conscious Uncoupling”

Ever heard of giving your kids “the Birds & the Bees” discussion? Well you’ve probably never heard of “the Conscious Uncoupling” discussion. Yes it is just a fancy name for “divorce”, but it exemplifies how you should approach discussing this topic with your children. Being conscious to the fact that this decision affects them just as much as (if not more than) it affects you, and being conscious to the fact that they deserve input to this process where it is appropriate.

When you and your partner decide that the relationship is no longer healthy for either/both of you, it feels like a very personal and individual decision. However, it has a rippling affect on the people closest to you, most importantly the children closest to you. There are multiple ways however to cushion the blow when announcing a separation to children.kids and dog

Be Open and Upfront

You may think that you’re doing a great job of hiding any negative feelings between your spouse and yourself, but the kids know. Children have a “sixth sense” when it comes to problems between their parents. They know when things are going well and they definitely know when things are not. Make your kids a priority in the situation and prepare them for this change. The only reason to postpone telling your kids is if you aren’t sure if it is actually going to happen. No need to jump the gun on this difficult conversation.

Continue Showing a United Front

This is extremely important. In your children’s eyes you are a package deal. Whether you are separating, divorcing, or “consciously uncoupling”, you are both still a parent to your children. They still need the same things from you that they needed when you were together. That means being able to respect one another and (at least pretend to) be as friendly as possible. Although you can decide to stop being in a relationship, you can not decide to stop being a parent.

Spare Them the Details

Telling your kids that their parents are no longer in love is hard enough. Do NOT add on top of that all the reasons you think the other parent is [insert bad words that children should not hear]. Your decision to separate is about your relationship with your partner, not your child’s relationship with their parent. Trying to damage that relationship is not your place and is just plain old cruel. Children will grow into adults and decide for themselves what they think of their parents and what type of relationship they want to have with them. Do not try to make those decisions for them.

Emphasize Your Relationship with Your Child Instead of with Your Partner

Spend this time explaining to your kids your love for them, and how that does not change. Children are very self-centered. It is just how they are at this stage of development. Honestly, your kids don’t care that you are no longer going to be together. They care about whether you and them are going to stay together. This is most likely the first time they are being introduced to the idea that two people can stop loving one another. This makes them fear a change in their relationship with you. Your job is to reinforce that your relationship with them is not going to change. This is also a good time to mention that the separation/divorce is not their fault. Be very clear that it has nothing to do with how much you love them.

Try to Create Routines and Consistency Between Two Households

Kids thrive when they are able to predict what will happen next. Divorce is a big shock, but it doesn’t have to unravel their sense of security. Creating consistency between two households can be difficult, but it will make all the difference in making the transition smooth. Don’t make a custody schedule based off of your needs. Make it based on what works best for your children. If your kids are old enough to give input, please give them that courtesy. Consistency looks like…

  • Keeping some of their favorite things at both homes (favorite toys, snacks, etc.)
  • Sticking to the house rules they have always had (bed time, amount of TV, etc.)
  • Having both parents at family activities (birthdays, school events, etc.)
  • Not changing plans at the last minute (who’s weekend it is, who’s picking them up from school, etc.)

 

When finding it difficult to have these discussions or finding that co-parenting isn’t going as smoothly as you would like, consider family therapy. It gives a safe place for kids to have their voices heard and for parents to practice helpful tools in the process of creating a new family dynamic.

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Are You Enemies, Sidekicks, or a Team?: Defining Your Relationship with Your Parenting Partner

You see your child in front of you with that bottom lip stuck out. They are asking to do/for something that you have already said “No” to multiple times in the past. You try not to fall victim to those sad puppy dog eyes. You quickly glance around the room to make eye contact with your partner. Do you…

A. Find them no where in site, and therefore have to go by what your child tells you they said.

B. Find them not to far away, but completely ignoring your desperate stares.

C. Meet their gaze and know they are going to back you up no matter what you say.

Or D. Some rendition of one of these or a combination of one, two, or three of them?

family shadow

If you answered A.

You may be enemies. This probably isn’t the first time they’ve been m.i.a., and it probably won’t be the last either.When your partner is no where to be found it is hard to feel supported or appreciated. It also isn’t real conducive to that whole “united front” idea. If this is your relationship it is important to work on two things…communication and appearances. You have to have very open and reachable communication with your partner. If they aren’t going to be by your side when making a decision, they at least need to know what decision they are suppose to be supporting. This is where appearances comes in. You want it to appear to your kid(s) that you are both on the same page with any and all decisions being made. Any sign that one parent is out of the loop, you might as well be bleeding into a tank of sharks…those little monsters will sniff that out and take advantage.

What To Do: 

  • Be aware of any permissions your child(ren) may be asking for
  • Have an open line of communication
  • Do NOT waiver on any agreed upon decisions

If you answered B.

You may be sidekicks. Your kid(s) probably know that they will hear, “Ask [insert other parent]” instead of actually getting an answer. Someone in this parenting dynamic is the boss, and someone in this dynamic is probably disengaged from the relationship and/or family. This can be dangerous because not only is there a lack of support, but there is a lack of care. One parent is left making all the decisions and feeling like they are in it alone, while the other doesn’t even know what decision is being made.

What To Do:

  • Practice making eye contact
  • Ask how you can help or ask for help
  • Set aside time to engage with spouse/family
  • Do NOT defer to the other parent

If you answered C.

Congrats! It sounds like you are already acting as a team! Your kid(s) recognize that an answer from one parent is as good as an answer from both. You put on a united front that shows teamwork and consistency. No one parent is taking on the burden of being “the bad cop”, and all parties are being shown mutual respect.

What To Do:

  • Continue being consistent
  • Discuss decisions with each other before coming to a final conclusion
  • Do NOT argue in front of the child(ren)

If you answered D.

Consistency isn’t your strongest attribute. Sometimes your partner is a dependable ally and sometimes they are your worst enemy. Either way, you are probably craving the same stability your kids are searching for. Being inconsistent can create resentment and an unstable environment for a couple and family. A lack of dependability leaves one partner unsure of what to expect and reluctant to share their needs. If you don’t know what response you will get you are more likely to avoid any communication.

What To Do:

  • Practice consistency with small tasks/decisions
  • Prioritize with partner what really needs their full attention
  • Do NOT flake on decisions that have been set

 

At the end of the day, your relationship with your spouse and family is affected by how you choose to parent. Attending couples and/or family therapy can help you gain insight on how to make improvements that will make parenting easier and more rewarding. If committing to weekly sessions is not suitable for your schedule, look up local parenting workshops and parent groups that may lend the support you are looking for.

“Coming together is a beginning; Keeping together is progress; Working together is success.” ~Henry Ford

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